THE ORDEAL OF TOTAL WAR 1939-1945 by Gordon Wright


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The final volume in the prestigious, thorough, and dull Rise of Modern Europe series edited by William Langer of Harvard, so familiar to undergraduate history students, it is somewhat less detailed than the others, sparing with footnotes, and instead of a seamless narrative it is quite effectively divided into topics. Except for the last two chapters on preparation for the postwar era (discussing war aims and great power negotiations) and the social impact of ""total war,"" it proceeds in a political and ideological vacuum. Wright offers an unpedantic, noncontroversial introduction to the major data, leaving the reader to discover and assay the issues after he assimilates this background. The military history is wonderfully concise; the chapters on the German role in the occupied countries and on resistance movements make this material more accessible than do other broad studies. Wright also discusses psychological warfare and scientific dimensions (omitting the more lurid). It is all very competent if rather antiseptic: low scholarly impact, high utility.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1968
ISBN: 0881339725
Publisher: Harper & Row